Everything You Need to Know About Digital Sales, You Learned in the Outdoors, Part 2

Seek the path of least resistance.

By Mary Iannotti November 28, 2017
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1. Read Part 3.

A successful digital sales funnel acts as a compass that leads prospects through their buying journey. 

But if your sales navigation system creates friction, visitors will lose interest in your offer. They’ll quickly leave your website. 

Each person who leaves your site represents more than just potential revenue loss. The money you spent getting those visitors to your site in the first place will disappear too, leaving your marketing ROI bone dry. 

Here’s a lesson from the outdoors that’ll keep your sales compass sharp, so visitors stay on course all the way through to a purchase. 

As I approached the Southwest Buttress of Cathedral Peak, famous Yosemite pioneer TM Herbert strolled by. My partner asked him for beta about the route, and his response was classic: “Ah, there are lots of ways to go, just take the path of least resistance.” 

(Herbert proceeded up the route ropeless. In no time, he left behind everyone else half his age. It was humbling to watch experience beat out youth.) 

Herbert’s advice applies to your digital sales funnel as much as it does to climbing. Optimizing your web pages with the tips in this article will carve out a path of least resistance for your prospects, making it easier for you to convert them into customers. 

Part 1 of this series offered strategies for learning where your prospects are in their buying process and developing digital products that will lead them into your sales funnel.  

Products like buyer’s guides and how-to guides move prospects through the Problem-Aware and Solution-Aware stages of the buying process. The guides serve as selling tools that build brand authority and earn trust. 

Now you’ll learn how your website can steer people through the last two stages of awareness (Product-Aware and More-Aware) and convince them to purchase with minimal friction. 

Rotating Slider Images Could Be Doing More Harm Than Good 

Do you ever wonder who likes rotating images (sliders) at the top of home pages? Are the real fans brands or visitors?  

That’s an ongoing debate between web designers and conversion rate optimizers and one worth investigating. There’s evidence on both sides of the debate. 

  • Notre Dame University found that only 1 percent of its website visitors clicked on its home page slider. Eighty-four percent of those clicks were on the first item in the rotation. 
  • Orbit Media’s static image received three times as many clicks as the slider. 
  • A rotating slider revamped to be more efficient won on a test Conversion Scientists ran. It beat a static image by 61 percent. 

If you’re using a slider, check your website analytics to see how many clicks each image is getting. If engagement is high on several images, consider keeping your slider. Otherwise remove it. 

Many websites experience a high click-through rate on the first image, and then click-through dies off. If that’s the story your analytics tells you, it may be time to switch to a static image. By being less distracting, a single image might make it easier to move prospects to the next stage of awareness in your sales funnel. 

Alternatives If Your Rotating Slider Fails to Engage 

1. Use a static image of your most important offering at the top of the home page. The North Face has no problem prioritizing its product line. 

2. Store Your Board uses a variety of static images to segment its visitors. This strategy puts prospects first by setting up an easy and quick path to the product line they want to see. 

Optimize Rotating Sliders For Better Results 

If you decide to keep rotating images on your home page, these adjustments will make the sliders perform better for you. 

1. Put your most important slide first because that position will get the highest engagement. 

2. Ensure the images on your slider aren’t slowing down your website. Visitors will leave if they have to wait while your page loads into their browser. 

  • You can reduce the size of your images to make them load faster. But this isn’t the only solution. Instead, you can reduce the image file size by compressing the file. 
  • Use JPEG images when possible and a file compression tool. When using robust photo editing tools like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, you can compress images before exporting them. 

3. Time your rotation so visitors can read all of the copy on each image before the slider advances. 

4. Include obvious navigation that lets visitors manually advance to the next image, view a previous image or select any image in the slider if they choose. 

5. Fade your images in and out. That loading technique is less distracting than a slide movement.  

Other Ways Images Can Sell For You 

Bravo to climbing outfitter North Cascades, which understands how to sell an experience. The group’s homepage photo communicates its rock climbing excursions in stunning fashion. 

The placement of the climber in the photo brings your eye right to the headline. 

Artic Wild doesn’t leave scrolling down the page to chance. The group directs visitors to view more with its visual cue – “Explore Below”. 

Avoid Uncertainty: The Silent Sales Killer 

Uncertainty breeds anxiety that can divert prospects even when they are well on their way to making a purchase. Or right before they click the “Buy” button. 

Put your visitors at ease, and make your sale by adding trust-builders—such as clear and friendly return policies—to your page. 

As Forrester discovered, “Eighty-one percent of online consumers are more likely to buy from e-retailers with flexible return policies.” 

REI doesn’t wait until the shopping cart or checkout to show visitors its guarantee. “The REI Difference” has a prominent spot right next to the call-to-action buttons on each product detail page. 

Guarantees, return policies and quality seals put people at ease. Create trust by making sure visitors see them early and often. 

Just as certain elements can keep your prospects focused and on track by fostering a path of least resistance, other elements can do the opposite by distracting them or creating resistance.  

In part three of this series—out next week—we’ll help you dig deep into your web traffic data. You’ll be able to evaluate where visitors hit roadblocks or resistance so you can adjust your digital marketing to keep them on track.  

The lesson is led by a skier who shows you how perseverance can reward you with a more consistent online revenue stream. 

This is part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1Read Part 3.
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